Garden Blog | January
Well here we are in 2019 already. Days are lengthening, and the first signs of the spring garden are emerging. Golden flowered winter aconites, and pure white snowdrops are beginning to push through, tantalising us with the promise of their massed display to come. Hellebores with their bashful nodding flower-heads begin to reach up for the sky, and amongst the flowering shrubs that brighten the garden right now are a number of well-known examples such as viburnums and flowering quince. There are also of course less well known shrubs and trees that are well worth attention, and amongst these is Parrotia persica, also known as the Persian ironwood. This deciduous small tree is closely related to Hamamelis, or witch-hazel, and is native to northern Iran and southern Azerbaijan. We have a number of Parrotia persica here at Deene Park where it is able to reach its full potential. At this time of year it is smothered in deep ruby red clusters of flowers that very much resemble miniature witch hazel flowers. At the end of the season Parrotia also puts on an extraordinary display of golden yellow, orange and vivid red autumn colour.
Since last month’s garden blog our new rose garden has come on leaps and bounds…we have now planted our roses, and contractors have tarmacked the paths. Our new rose garden is on a site that had once been occupied by a small chapel and accompanying formal garden. The layout of the beds and paths in our new rose garden is designed to reflect the style of the past gardens at this side of the house, though not exactly replicate them. The new planting scheme consists of a lovely selection of English Roses that, as they radiate out from the central circle, become progressively paler shades of pink.
English Roses are modern cultivars bred to have the same richly scented, big and blousy blooms as Old Roses, but with far superior vigour and disease resistance. In recognition of the history of the site, we are also planting a number of Rosa mundi, a beautiful medieval cultivar with extraordinary striped petals. English roses are robust shrubs reaching approximately five foot tall and broad, and are therefore planted farther apart than Hybrid Tea Roses.
We have chosen to plant bare root roses. These are only available from about November to March, when the plants are dormant, and usually ordered via mail order. Bare root roses are dug from the open ground in which they have been raised, and packed to prevent the roots drying out in transit to the customer. Bare-root roses are good quality and value. Containerised roses are simply bare rooted roses that have been potted up, and are available from nurseries and garden centres at the same time of year. However, containerisation isn’t the ideal way to keep roses healthy, and so as the season wears on plants left in containers will start to deteriorate.
Planting should take place as soon as your bare root roses arrive to ensure the best possible start to their new life in your garden. If however the ground is waterlogged or frozen it is best to pot up your new plants in a good general purpose compost until conditions improve.
Firstly, for each rose, dig a hole roughly twice the width of the plant’s roots and the depth of a spade’s blade. Next, place the rose in the centre of the hole and, using a small cane to identify the top of the planting hole, ensure the graft union (i.e. where the cultivar joins the rootstock and the point from which the branches originate) is a couple of inches below soil level, this reduces the risk of suckering. Evenly spread out the rose roots and gently refill the planting hole with excavated soil, mixed with well rotted organic matter if your soil is sandy and in need of improvement. To help retain moisture and suppress weeds, it’s a good idea to top dress the soil around your roses with more well rotted organic matter. Different types of rose have different planting distances, and these can be identified from the rose catalogue when browsing.
There we have it…roses planted. In our new rose garden we now need to get on with ordering lavender edging and herbaceous plant to infill the beds before planting out in spring. Also in spring, the final bonded gravel surface will be added to the paths, in a colour that matches the stonework of the House.